Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Concert Recommendation: Patti Smith, Navy Pier Skyline Stage, June 24

A few summers ago, the Patti Smith Group played a free outdoor show sponsored by the Tribune. A WXRT DJ gave a deeply reverential introduction. Yes, Smith's 1975 debut Horses frequently turns up on lists of the greatest rock albums ever. She's an integral part of the early New York punk scene with such peers as the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. Her continuing influence can be heard in the Strokes. But she was having none of the ego-stroking. She dismissed the praise and claimed that she and the band were just a bunch of fuck-ups. The long-time members of the group cheered wildly for what they deemed a more accurate appraisal while the young guns on stage looked awkward.

Because of long gaps between albums and therefore long gaps between tours, her live reputation isn't as entrenched, even if Gilda Radner did parody her as "Candy Slice" back when Saturday Night Live was relevant and funny. Like Iggy Pop, she gives herself fully to the material. She's an uninhibited and charismatic performer. Her new album Trampin' will give her a chance to show this off at the Skyline Stage.

Patti Smith plays the Navy Pier Skyline Stage  at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 24.

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